A community-wide supper Feb. 21 helped raise money for local projects and for a school in Zambia, Africa.
The annual suppers, dubbed a Soup Fest and consisting of homemade soup and homemade buns, have been taking place for at least 10 years, hosted by the Houston GEMS Club.
Money raised through donations goes toward supporting the GEMS Esther School in Zambia and locally, the Houston Soup Kitchen and Food Bank and the Rough Acres and Rock Nest bible camps.
Approximately 60 girls between the ages of six and 14 in the Girls Everywhere Meeting the Saviour (GEMS) Club spent the days before the event planning and preparing the soup and fixings, said coordinator Caroline Thomson.
“Some people make it at home a couple of weeks before and then freeze it,” said Thomson of preparations that culminated in an intense period of activity in the kitchen at the Houston Christian School.
Several hundred people gathered in the school’s gym for the meal.
“There are 21 varieties of soup — they don’t call it ‘Soup Fest’ for nothing.” Thomson noted.
Flavours ranged from the traditional to the unique — from chili soup to meatball soup to taco soup to mulligatawny, the latter made tasty thanks to an infusion of curry.
Thomson said the preparation and serving of the soup helps build community because of the number of people involved working together for a common goal.
“And it’s a lot of fun,” she noted. “This is an event that draws in a huge amount of the community.”
The GEMS club is organized through the Christian Reformed Church in Houston but is non-denominational.
The organizations supported by the Soup Fest donations are generally those supported by the church, Thomson said.
But that can change depending upon circumstances —a past Soup Fest effort resulted in donations to provincial wild fire relief, she added.
“It can really depend where the needs are,” Thomson said.
This Soup Fest was Thomson’s first as a coordinator and she credited longtime volunteers with providing invaluable assistance.
“I couldn’t do it without everyone else involved,” she said.
The Esther School in Zambia is a Christian day school run by a division of Dynamic Youth Ministries and located in an under-served region of that country.
Its roots go back to 2008 when a team of GEMS leaders went to Zambia and observed the need for education in more rural areas.
After solidifying plans with the chief of a village who agreed to donate 25 acres, ground was broken in 2009 and the school building opened to boys and girls in 2012.
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